Food & Shopping Facts

marketBread was full of grit because bits of the grindstones got into the flour and sand was added to the grain to speed up the grinding. The sand and grit wore away people’s teeth.

Fish and pork were ‘unclean’. That meant they were not acceptable as offerings to the gods. People who were able to choose did not eat them.

Big purchases were sometimes agreed in writing to avoid arguments. A scribe sold an ox for a fine linen tunic and two everyday ones, beeds for a necklace and several sacks (probably of grain, but this is not recorded).

Barley bread was soaked in water sweetened with dates. The liquid fermented to make beer.

Daily rations for a labourer: bread, beer and onions, which were issued to workers on a pyramid site. Their basic pay was in fish, fuel, vegetables, grain and pottery, with beer and dates from time to time. At festivals they got bonuses.

The Nile provided poor people with a cheap source of food. Its waters were full of fish and its marshes were home to huge flocks of birds – duck, crane and teal. If hunters caught too many to eat or sell, the surplus were gutted, dried in the sun and then stored in jars of salt.

You did not take a purse to market. People brought things made at home – mats, cloth, cakes or bread – to exchange for farm produce and craftware – pottery, sandals, jewellery and toys.

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